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The Theoretical Dimensions of Henry James

John Carlos Rowe

Publication Year: 2009

Rowe examines James from the perspectives of the psychology of literary influence, feminism, Marxism, psychoanalysis, literary phenomenology and impressionism, and reader-response criticism, transforming a literary monument into the telling point of intersection for modern critical theories.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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pp. ix

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pp. xi-xv

The Theoretical Dimensions of Henry James addresses the problem of the "single author," which in its grandest formulation is the problem of the "Master" or of literary mastery. Foucault's question "What Is an Author?" is central to the humanistic activity of interpretation, insofar as the status of the subject interpreted ...

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Chapter 1: Henry James and Modern Criticism: Some Version of Literary Mastery

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pp. 3-28

PERMIT ME T0 BEGIN in the midst of a Jamesian conversation, characteristically punctuated by the two rhetorical questions included in the first epigraph to this chapter. They are rhetorical questions posed by Rosanna Gaw and Graham Fielder during the episode in which Rosanna delivers her father's sealed letter ...

Chapter 2: Literary Influences

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Part I: James's "Hawthorne" and the American Anxiety of Influence

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pp. 30-57

In the history of American literature, there have been two sorts of thunder, two very different prophecies, each of which may be considered a metaphor for a powerful and complicated conception of American literary nationality. Melville's Hawthorne says, "No! in thunder," thereby figuring the strong poet's denial of his tradition.1 ...

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Part II: James, Trollope, and the Victorian Anxiety of Influence

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pp. 58-84

My argument in the preceding pages has depended crucially on the paradoxical formulation of James's ''Americanness'' as a peculiar function of his own willful desire to become an international modernist. Within the terms of that thesis, then, my emphasis on Hawthorne's powerful influence serves its purpose, ...

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Chapter 3: Feminist Issues: Women, Power, and Rebellion in The Bostonians, The Spoils of Poynton and The Aspern Papers

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pp. 85-118

The Bostonians (1886), The Aspern Papers (1888), and The Spoils of Poynton (1897) form an interesting triptych for our consideration of issues of feminism both in modern theories of representation and in James's oeuvre. Grouping them together and momentarily isolating them from the other works, ...

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Chapter 4: Psychoanalytical Significances: The Use and Abuse of Uncertainty in The Turn of the Screw

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pp. 119-146

JAMES'S LITERARY AMBIGUITY is much abused by his most dedicated interpreters. Generally considered a sign of his genius, James's ambiguity is often made to serve the same authoritarian purposes that his works anatomize as arbitrary and immoral. But before we can approach the issue of the use or abuse ...

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Chapter 5: Social Values: The Marxist Critique of Modernism and The Princess Casamassima

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pp. 147-188

IN THE FIRST CHAPTER, I argue that the significance of the diverse approaches to Henry James lies less in the claim for his enduring genius than in the particular uses to which each of those approaches might put such "genius," "originality," or "decadence." This theoretical use is ultimately social and cultural analysis; ...

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Chapter 6: Phenomenological Hermeneutics: Henry James and Literary Impressionism

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pp. 189-218

IN THE FINAL TWO CHAPTERS of The Theoretical Dimensions of Henry James, I want to address two esthetic problems that normally are considered concerns of formalist criticism: literary impressionism and the implied reader. My placement of these chapters at the end of the study may appear curious to the reader, ...

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Chapter 7: Forms of the Reader's Act: Author and Reader in the Prefaces to the New York Edition

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pp. 219-252

THE DISTINCTIONS we make between reader and text, as well as among different literary functions, in our efforts to define literary effects are inherently false distinctions. The reader is always textual, both as phenomenon and effect. The intertextuality of literature involves a confrontation of discourses ...

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pp. 253-260

THESE TWO EPIGRAPHS might stand in the place of any more formal conclusion, were it not that the lack of a final word might encourage my reader to understand my methodical variety to have intended some ultimate plurality of interpretative possibilities. ...


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pp. 261-284


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pp. 285-288

E-ISBN-13: 9780299099732
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299099749

Publication Year: 2009